Cabo do Roco Lighthouse
After being unable to get a carpark near Quinta de Regaliera, we decided to continue on to Cabo da Roco. Cabo da Roco and its lighthouse is situated on a windswept, granite cliffs that tumble to a frothing sea below and marks Europe’s westernmost point.
The lighthouse at Cabo da Roca was Portugal’s first purpose built lighthouse and was completed in 1772, although, the present lighthouse dates from 1842. The lighthouse’s 1000 watt light is so bright it can be seen up to 46 km away.
We, like the other tourists visiting, wandered around the headland admiring both the view and the rocky outcrops that tumble into the sea. As it was the Christmas period there were also a lot of Portuguese visiting too, including a large group of motorcyclists.
The Cabo da Roca has not only a lighthouse, but also a stone marker with the latitude and longitude and a quote from a famous Portugeuese poet Luis Camoes, (1524–1580) who described the area as; “Where the land ends and the sea begins”.
Queluz National Palace
We continued our journey along the beachfront before turning inland and travelling through the forest to reach Queluz Palace, parking in a residential area only to discover plenty of parking both at the palace and across the road, oh well.
History of the Palace
This palace was inspired, in part, by the palace at Versailles and frequently called the Portuguese Versailles. Queluz became the summer royal residence by Dom Pedro III and his wife Queen Maria I in 1747. Interestingly enough, Dom Pedro III was actually Maria’s uncle and 17 years older than her. While it took the Architect Mateus Vicente de Oliveira five years to make the place habitable, it took Frenchman, Jean-Baptiste Robillon, a further 40 years to complete the detailed baroque plan that included imported trees, statues and azulejo-lined canals and fountains.
In 1794, the Palace of Queluz became the official residence for Prince Regent, the future King D. Joao VI and his family after his home of Ajuda Palace burnt in a fire. The palace remained the official home until 1807, when the royal family fled to Brazil during a french invasion.
After 1826, the palace became less popular and suffered severe damage to the interior after a fire in 1934, requiring extensive renovation work. Today one wing of the palace is used by foreign heads of state when visiting Portugal.
Our visit to the Palace
Having been told by my mother in law how she had visited the peeling, salmon-pink rococo edifice and having read descriptions on it, we were quite surprised to find a sky-blue one instead. We did a quick google-maps check to make sure we were in the correct place and we were. So at some stage either there was a sale on blue paint or a decision was made to upgrade the palace’s colour scheme.
At the entrance to the palace is a statue of Maria I, who apparently after the death of Pedro in 1786 started to go mad, this worsened when her eldest son, Jose died from small pox in 1788. Maria was confined to rooms referred to as Maria’s Pavillion to keep her from view of the public, but apparently her torturous screams could be heard throughout the Palace.
We opted to do the audio guide through the palace, but probably should have just opted to read the signage throughout instead. The palace is very ornately decorated, but there is noticeable deterioration like with the mirrors and interior paint work, which you don’t see so much in English palaces, but it is still very beautiful.
The first room you visit is the throne room, although there are no thrones there, but rather ornate mirrors and gilded decorations. The next room is the music room, complete with a portrait of Maria I and a piano which is still played periodically.
There are many rooms, each with beautiful chandeliers, decorated ceilings and beautiful furniture, ranging in purpose from bedrooms to dining rooms to smoking rooms.
Although the palace is beautiful inside, what I liked better were the gardens which would be spectacular in the summer. The gardens encompass 40 acres of space and were constructed between 1752 and 1786. The Jamor River flows through the estate with a small section channeled through a small canal of 115 meters in length, that is lined with a Azulejo tiled panels on either side. Also on the canal is a tiled lake house, which was used by an orchestra in the summer to entertain the royal family, who rode in boats on the river.
Some of the gardens were closed off for maintenance, but my favourite section was the Hanging Garden situated in the Upper Gardens. The Hanging Garden sits below the main facade with windows overlooking it. The French-style, geometric gardens have box hedges, flower pots, urns and marble statues and I imagine in the summer flowering plants. In this section of the gardens the fountains were running and it was definitely a favoured photo spot.
Similar in style to the Hanging Gardens is the Malta Garden. Many of the statues used in both of the gardens come from either Italy or London.
Its certainly a nice way to spend a few hours and is less visited than the palaces in Sintra, so you don’t have the crowds.
Torre de Belem
We decided to go into Lisbon and see the section of the city down near the river, that we had previously missed. The riverfront was busy with both tourists and locals enjoying the winter sunshine. Walking along the river it is hard to miss the Torre de Belem, soaring above the water and long queue to get in. The tower has stood watch over the Tagus River since the 16th century and encompasses a range of styles from the Moorish to the Gothic and Romanesque. The tower was the last site explorers during the Golden Age would have seen sailing out of Lisbon, into the Atlantic Ocean. We admired the tower from the outside and watched the myriad of cyclist and those on scooters enjoying the sun.
Cabo Da Roco Lighthouse
- 1st October – 30th April │ 9 am – 6.30 pm
- 1st May – 30th September │ 9 am – 7.30 pm
- Closed 25th December, 1st January
Entrance and Parking are free
Queluz National Palace
- Palace and Gardens: Adult (18 – 64 years) – €10 │ Young ticket (6 to 17 years) – €50 │ Senior ticket (over 65 years old) – €8.50 │ Family ticket (2 adults + 2 young people) – € 33
- Gardens: Adult (18 – 64 years) – €5 │ Young ticket (6 to 17 years) – €50 │ Senior ticket (over 65 years old) – €3.50 │ Family ticket (2 adults + 2 young people) – € 15
- 28th October – 31st March: 9 am – 6 pm
- 1st April – 27th October: 9 am – 7 pm
- Closed: December 25th, January 1st
Torre de Belem
- Adults: €6 │ Youth, Students, Over 65+: € 3 │ Family Ticket (2 adults + 2 children): €12
- Lisbon Card: Free
- October to May: 10 am – 5.30 pm (last admission at 5.00 p.m.)
- May to September: 00 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. (last admission at 5.00 p.m.)
- Closed:Mondays and 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May, 13 June and 25 December